When a new TV show is brought into this world with a title like "Less Than Perfect," it might as well have a bull's-eye emblazoned on it. And when the show is as woefully written as this one tends to be, it's a sitting duck.
The cast and concept suggest that ABC's "Less" could be more. Sara Rue shows charm as perky and plumpish Claudia "Claude" Casey, a lowly office drudge at GBN Television Network who improbably wins a plum promotion assisting oily news anchor Will Butler (the talented Eric Roberts, who deserves better). Claude must not only cope with Will's wily ways and fend off a pair of devious office rivals (Zachary Levi and Andrea Parker) but also remain loyal to her pre-promotion office pals (Andy Dick and Sherri Shepherd).
The setup has potential, at least until the characters open their mouths. Rue, Dick and Shepherd, in particular, prop up their lines with as much oomph as they can manage, but the exchanges too often fall stunningly flat.
"Have you ever driven a nail?" asks one character in an upcoming episode. "No," another answers, "but I have driven to get my nails done."
And that's one of the show's better lines.
Tonight at 9:30, in an episode titled "Oh Papa," Owen (Dick) discovers that the woman who had enlisted his help in becoming a single mother (don't ask) is indeed with child. Because he wants to be part of his kid's life but is worried that he has no parenting skills, the gang decides to look up the sperm-donor father Owen has never seen (Barry Bostwick). The resulting meeting is so flat and unconvincing that even the studio audience on the review tape seems baffled.
Next week's episode, in which Claude's brother (Richard Ruccolo) hooks up with Lydia (Parker), is an improvement, but if you want to see how much less than perfect a sitcom can be, tune in tonight.